Passing Too Well

I seem normal.

Obviously, I seem normal. I passed as normal for years and years. If I didn’t seem normal, Asperger’s Syndrome would have been easily diagnosed when I was much younger. “Passing” for normal is actually a commonly-used term in the AS community. Mostly, we try to pass as normal. In fact, it’s pretty much the ultimate goal. I think that’s how people separate high-functioning autism from low-functioning. Can we pass as normal? Can we hide our differences well enough?

How do people expect me to be? I mean, doesn’t everyone try to hide their differences? I also have depression, but you wouldn’t know it—or expect to know it—from one meeting with me. Even if I was really depressed when you met me, I’d hide it, right? And you wouldn’t know what was going on in my head. Just like I wouldn’t know you have ADD or severe insomnia… or even necessarily that you’re shy.

Everyone hides their differences. Yes, I’m making a blanket statement. Maybe we shouldn’t, but we do. We do our best to blend in. I do my best to blend in because I don’t like to draw attention to myself, and, well, it’s also habit. I do it because I don’t want to appear rude, because I don’t want to make you uncomfortable…

I could just let my differences shine through. I could just not look you in the eye at all – really, that’s what I’d prefer. I can’t say it causes me physical pain to do it, but in a way it does hurt. I could just rock and look around while you’re talking to me, maybe shake/flap my hand a bit…

I guess my point with all this is that I’m a little frustrated. I don’t mind people considering me normal. I mean… I’m normal, just not neuro-typical. I’m okay with them not being able to see that I have difficulties. And, in fact, I knew I was opening myself up to these kinds of responses by sort of publically broadcasting that I’m an Aspie. I even knew that other Aspies hate telling people for this exact reason. I’m not mad at people for this. But it does get a little frustrating to hear this thing that can sound a lot like disbelief when they point out to me that I don’t seem to be socially awkward or different.

I will smile and shrug it off and ignore my urge to give a two-hour lecture on what AS is. But maybe some of you can take something away from my rant? Maybe a little more understanding for people who have a so-called “invisible disability,” and for how they may feel when you let your first thought roll off your tongue.

“You seem normal to me.”

“I never would have guessed! You seem so normal!”

Try something else, maybe? Hey, you could even post a comment with alternative reactions/things to say!